BBC Autos

Evolution of Design

Re-imagining the megayacht

About the author

Ken is a freelance writer and editor who resides in suburban Milwaukee, Wisconsin. A former newspaper reporter and magazine editor, Ken has more than 25 years of editorial and communications experience.

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To most people, a yacht is just a yacht – an über-expensive toy for one-percenters. But even the World’s Most Interesting Man might raise an eyebrow at the Alen 68, sprung from the loins of high-end Turkish boatmaker Alen Yacht, with help from the world-renowned, London-based architectural firm Foster + Partners.

The new Alen model emerged from a 68-foot prototype custom-built for a Monaco businessman who already had worked with Foster + Partners (designer of the McLaren Technology Centre and Apple Inc.’s new headquarters) on another project. “This client wanted to build the coolest 68-footer out there and Foster said, ‘Let’s do it,’” says Alp Ozcan, owner and chief executive officer of Alen, headquartered in Istanbul.

What did Alen gain from partnering with a landlubber firm lacking boat-design chops? In short, creative objectivity. “Because they have no experience, they look at boats in a totally creative way, uninfluenced by conventions,” Ozcan explains. “I’ve never seen an exterior and interior design as sleek and original as this.”

By eschewing traditional yacht interiors, which hide walls with modular built-in furniture, Foster instead fashioned a space that embraces the visible, sinuous contours of the hull – part spaceship and part Dubai penthouse. The use of bleached oak, white leather, stainless steel and white onyx only enhances the elegant, minimalistic vibe.

Alen 68

Alen 68

On the practical side, this design sensibility also results in 20% more space than conventional 68-footers. This enabled Foster to develop a flexible interior “pod” that can be configured in up to three cabins. The yacht also features two kitchens – one above deck and one below. “It’s basically a floating house,” Ozcan says.

But don’t dismiss the Alen 68 as an all-show-and-no-go newbie; with a 1,188-gallon fuel tank and 1,550-horsepower from a pair of V12 diesel engines, this sleek-as-a-seal water nymph boasts a cruising speed of 41 knots and a maximum speed of 45 knots – enough to get you to St Tropez in time for that swank, A-list dinner party.

The Alen 68 costs about $3.7million, not including a design fee. Ozcan expects to build three or four a year – maybe even one for the World’s Most Interesting Man.

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